Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Evolution of Golf Etiquette

This is a great guest post by our friend Scott McCormick from GolfNow, which fits in perfectly with our segment 'The Evolution of Golf'.

As golf has evolved from a sport reserved solely for the upper crust of society to a pastime that the masses are free to enjoy both as spectators and as participants, many of the traditional customs and etiquette have changed as well.

No longer is it a pre-requisite to show up at the course donned in wool and neckties, for instance.
As another example, the doors have finally – and forcefully -- been kicked in completely for women to participate – even at the Augusta National Golf Club.

There are other examples of the golfing world adjusting to progressive social ideas – even if a cynic could say that golf has merely adapted to mid-20th century social mores, over a decade into the 21st century.

But yes, golf has adapted to become a more open, engaging sport that the proletariat is encouraged to enjoy both with clubs and the remote control in their hands.
Television has undoubtedly played a key role in this evolution, as many can trace the initial surge in golf’s popularity to the emergence of golfers like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as major American sports figures.

And of course, Tiger Woods upped the ante considerably as he rose to be one the world’s most iconic and recognizable pop culture figures.

A lot of new golf fans have been generated in recent decades, and while staunch traditionalists may bemoan any influence that comes from these so-called newbies, it’s difficult to make the case that the increase in the sport’s popularity isn’t a good thing for golf.

The ubiquity of golf on the television dials has led to increased attendance at PGA and non-sanctioned golf events, and these larger, younger crowds have helped to make the gallery a livelier, more interesting place.

I’m glad that spectators at big time golf events no longer have to walk on pins and needles, limited to hushed tones and pedantic finger-tapping as ways to show their support for their favorite link performers.

I’m a big fan of vibrant and vivacious crowds during golf tournaments.
Well, most of the time.

My progressive stance starts to soften every time some asshole yells “GET IN THE HOLE!” the instant a par 5 drive takes flight.

And that’s just the tip of the “yelling dumb things” iceberg.

The latest rage is to bellow out “MASHED POTATOES” after a tee shot. Have you heard that one? Do you find it clever? I don’t either.

Apparently, the ball is a potato and the mashed part refers to the force with which it was struck. Okay.
There was a craze for a while of yelling “YOU DA MAN!”
Lately, following the precedent set by “MASHED POTATOES”, dipshits have started yelling “FILET MIGNEON” and other seemingly random food dishes.
What’s behind this annoying trend?

Well, a couple things. One, these so-called “fans” are no doubt influenced by the prospect of having their inane squawks audible over the television broadcasts, and then recorded for posterity on DVRs and uploaded to youtube – the clips of which I will not link to so as to not encourage the practice.
The other cause is the fact that tournament officials continue to allow these shenanigans. Not all tournament officials; the stodgy old buzzers that run the Masters have figured out a way to keep the crowds in check.

I guess it is a bit uptight of me to be annoyed by this. Given a choice between subdued golf claps and boisterous “GET IN THE HOLE” shrieks, I’d probably choose the latter. But I do have to say that most of these shouts suffer greatly from a dearth of creativity; perhaps “MASHED POTATOES” was amusing the first time, but repeated ad nauseum it quickly becomes insufferable.

So while many golf rituals have rightly changed over the years and others have justifiably been kept – it is still a major no-no to shout at a golfer pre-swing, much as it is frowned upon to walk in a putter’s path – the evolution of golf traditions has included some wonderful developments (I can wear shorts at my favorite course now) and some less than stellar progressions (“MEDIUM RARE!”).
You win some, you lose some. Some holes you birdie, others you bogey.
“GET IN THE HOLE” is a triple bogey.   

This article was written by Scott McCormick.  Scott comes from a long line of mediocre – yet devoted – golfers. He lives in Arizona with his wife Alexis and their two dogs. When not trying to improve his short game on an office putting machine or following his favorite PGA tour pros on Twitter, he works as a freelance writer for Golf Now, specializing in Kansas City Golf and Vancouver Golf